Our First Camping Trip in Lizzy | Tishomingo SP

Our first outing in Lizzy has been a rousing success!

We spent the past weekend at Tishomingo State Park in the northeast corner of Mississippi, about an hour from our home in Tupelo. It’s a place of scenic beauty, although the facilities are beginning to show the effects of budget cutbacks in the state’s financial priorities.

When we made our reservations for the campground, there were only two RV sites available, so we didn’t have a lot of choice about where we parked. Our site was #20 which was located on the side of a hill across the road from the lake. Like all the sites in the park, ours was very wooded and shady. On the downside, there was a lot of moisture seeping from natural springs in the hillside running alongside our concrete pad, making it continuously moist (and that was BEFORE the rain). The grill and picnic table were uphill behind the RV, and since the hill was so steep, the picnic table sat at an incline. The RV pad itself was just slightly off-level, so we used leveling blocks under the front wheels to correct the slant.

Since this was our first RV experience ever, we wanted to make sure we tried and tested every system and piece of equipment in Lizzy. We ran the air conditioner almost the entire time we were there since it was so warm and humid. We quickly adapted to the foot-flush toilet, and enjoyed our hot-water showers although we kept them short to avoid filling up the gray tank. And we enjoyed watching a couple of DVDs on the 32″ flat-screen TV when it was raining outside.

The refrigerator and freezer worked perfectly, keeping all our perishable foods fresh (very important for us since we eat a LOT of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables). The three-burner propane stove lit up with no problem. We quickly learned to work around the small, shallow kitchen sink by using a plastic basin to wash the dishes and then rinsing them in the sink. The highlight of our equipment “testing” was the combination microwave/convection oven. I steamed vegetables in the microwave, but I also baked cinnamon rolls for Sunday breakfast using the convection feature, a first for me. They came out AMAZING!

All the electrical systems worked correctly, as did the awning. There was plenty of power in the 30-amp system to power everything that we needed, including our electric coffee percolator and my Instant Pot, which we used to cook dinner on Sunday night.

We had no problems co-existing in the small space. The large windows make the space seem larger, and we also spent a lot of time outdoors. The bed is technically a full XL (you have no idea how hard it is to find fitted sheets for that mattress), but with the foam pad that we added on top of the RV mattress, it was very comfortable, even though it was cozy.

There was only one glitch that we noticed, and it happened on the drive over and then again on the last morning before we drove back. The RV has a dashboard system that includes the backup camera monitor, radio, auxiliary input, etc. For some reason, we could not get the display to work so Andy could not see directly behind him as he drove. For some reason, once we got to the campsite and hooked up to shore power, the display worked fine, at least until the last morning. Not only were we able to use the auxiliary input to play music from my iPhone, but we could also see behind the RV via the display coming from the backup camera. But then, mysteriously, it stopped working again on the last morning. It’s something we’ll have to figure out, but Andy just used the extended side mirrors during the drive with no problems.

There were some other minor things–no conveniently-located electric outlet for the electric percolator (it has a very short cord); the air conditioner is pretty loud which makes it hard to hear the TV; there was no rack in the convection oven to place the baking pan on, so I just jury-rigged one out of the included grilling rack which I knew we would never use for grilling since we don’t eat meat.

Our final initiation into RV life came as we were leaving when we had to dump the gray and black tanks for the first time. We had watched enough YouTube videos to feel pretty confident about the process, and we made it through without making a mess or gagging.

I shot lots of video with the GoPro, so stay tuned for some footage of our stay at Tishomingo. We had some excitement on our second night when a storm front moved through around 12:45 AM with near-continuous lightning and straight-line winds near 70 MPH. We were fine inside the RV, and it wasn’t until we took a drive through the park the next day that we saw all the downed trees and branches. So thankful that no one was hurt, as far as we know.

Now we’re looking forward to our next trip in less than two weeks, when we’ll be introducing our two fur-babies, our cats Maggie and Molly, to RV life. There’s no way we can plan to make this a full-time lifestyle if the fur-babies are not part of it, so their initiation begins soon. Wish us luck!

What’s On The Menu

Only 24 hours left now until we take our first trip in our new RV, Lizzy. At lunchtime today, we went to the storage facility and removed her cover for the first time since we parked her there about five weeks ago. Now Andy is taking her out to get her filled up with gas, and is checking all the critical things like fluid levels and tire pressures.

I, on the other hand, am concentrating on the more important issues like, What are we going to eat?!

We learned from our tent camping days that it helps to come up with a menu for the trip and then take only the items needed to prepare those pre-planned meals. Not only does it ensure that you don’t forget critical ingredients, but it also helps avoid over-packing the cupboards and refrigerator with unneeded items, especially junk and snack foods.

Both Andy and I stick to a whole foods, plant-based diet, and we also avoid oils and salt. We both try to avoid refined sugars, and I also try to avoid bread and wheat products as much as possible. While we may occasionally slip up and have a small amount of dairy or eggs (desserts are my devil), we never, ever eat meat.

So our menu for camping will look a little different than what most people expect to see at a campsite, especially on Memorial Day weekend. But it’s the type of food that we enjoy and feel good about eating, and it helps keep us healthy and happy.

Here’s what we’ll be eating this weekend at Camp Lizzy:

Breakfast – We’ll start each day with refrigerator oats. This dish includes oats, chia seeds, raisins (Andy) or Craisins (me), sliced banana, fresh berries, walnuts and almond milk. I’ve already pre-made kits of the dry ingredients in ziplock bags, and each evening I’ll add mix the dry ingredients with the fruit and almond milk in a plastic container, mix it up and then store it in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, it’s a sweet, filling, healthy treat to start the day, accompanied by a big mug of hot coffee. As a special treat, we’re going to have cinnamon rolls one morning.

Lunch – Lunch each day will be wraps made with hummus, shredded broccoli/carrot mix (pre-shredded from the produce section), cucumber and tomato slices and kalamata olives. We’ll have some salt-free blue corn chips and salsa on the side, and fresh fruit for dessert.

Dinner – Evening meals get more creative and varied:

  • Friday night – Grilled black bean burgers with BBQ sauce, avocado, tomato; vegetarian baked beans; corn on the cob (cooked on the grill)
  • Saturday night – Foil packets containing potatoes, onions, peppers and Tofurkey sausage links (cooked on the grill); green beans
  • Sunday night – Bomb Diggity Black Bean Rice (recipe from “Epic Vegan Instant Pot Cooking” by Derek & Hannah Howlett); broccoli

And yes, on Sunday night, we will be cooking in our Instant Pot, as all up-to-date RV’ers do. We’ve had our IP for a couple of years now, and totally love it!

Since we want to to test out all the appliances on the first trip, we’ll be using the microwave (for steamable bagged veggies), the convection oven (for cinnamon rolls), the propane stove (for heating canned baked beans), and of course the refrigerator/freezer. Woo-hoo, no ice chest!

We usually drink plain water with our meals, but we will have some beer and wine on hand as well.

Snacks will include fresh fruit (grapes, bananas, apples, tangerines), almonds, and possibly a little vegan dark chocolate.

My goal is to make it through this weekend without gaining more than one pound, preferably less. But it is a vacation after all, and we intend to enjoy ourselves, vegan-style.

Introducing Our YouTube Channel

Today you can learn just about anything you want to know just by watching YouTube videos. And that includes finding out everything both good and bad, positive and negative, about the RV lifestyle.

I started searching for full-time RVers on YouTube a few months ago, and was amazed at the number of people that are actively sharing their lives and adventures on the Internet. There are men and women, both young and old, traveling solo in everything from small cars (Prius included) to tricked out motorhomes. There are young couples who are criss-crossing the country while working full-time via remote connection from their RV. There are families with children that are home-schooling their kids while exploring not only the U.S. but Canada and Mexico as well.

These people are documenting their experiences in vlogs and sharing them with the world, offering a wealth of knowledge and advice to people like us who are hoping to follow in their footsteps. Reading books about RV’s is fine, but seeing and hearing from real people, and being able to ask them questions through the comments section of the videos, is priceless!

I’ve listed my favorite RVing YouTube channels in the sidebar of this blog’s homepage, but here’s a shout-out to some of my absolute favorites:

  • CheapRVLiving – Bob Wells is the definitive source of information for those who are looking for a way to live off-grid in the most economical yet comfortable way possible. His interviews with solo car-and-van dwellers will amaze and inspire you. He also does a lot of equipment demonstrations that are very helpful.
  • Keep Your Daydream – This family of five from the Phoenix, Arizona area have been full-timing it for several years, and their travel videos are amazing. They recently did a whole series from Mexico, and now Mexico is definitely on our bucket list.
  • Long Long Honeymoon – Sean and Kristy are from Alabama. They tow a travel trailer all over the United States, and they are hilarious as well as informative. Their footage from Yellowstone National Park is beautiful.
  • Nomadic Fanatic – Eric is a solo traveler–well, not exactly solo since he answers to his traveling companion, a huge cat named Jax. Eric travels in a Class C motorhome, and as of this writing he is following Route 66 from west to east, and providing great commentary along the way.
  • Less Junk, More Journey – Nathan, Marissa and their young daughter Hensley are from Tennessee. They live in an Airstream trailer, traveling all over the country. They even took Marissa’s mom along with them on their most recent trip to the Grand Canyon and Utah.

I encourage you to check out the full list of YouTubers in sidebar to this blog–you’ll be hooked!

We’ve been so inspired by all the great content that these people provide that we’ve decided to launch our own YouTube channel to document our journey from being RV newbies to (hopefully) full-timers. We don’t have a great vlogging camera, microphones, stabilizers or drones, but we’re taking our cue from other RV vloggers who are creating great content using an iPhone and a selfie stick.

I’ve created a couple of vlog videos using our Samsung OIS Duo camcorder and my Nikon Coolpix P530. I’ve created videos of our past cruises using Microsoft Movie Maker on my PC, but for our new channel, I’m testing out Corel’s VideoStudio X10. It has so much more functionality, and so far I really like it.

Our new channel is called, of course, Just Call Us Nomads, and I hope you’ll visit it and subscribe! I also hope that one day I can look back at these first crappy videos and marvel at how much better I’ve gotten at producing the same quality content as my online mentors!

Here’s a link to our most recent post, where we are setting up housekeeping in Lizzy even while she’s under wraps at the storage facility. Enjoy!

Eight Days and Counting

Only eight days left until we take Lizzy out for our first camping trip since we purchased her on April 23. I can hardly wait!

Why so long, you ask? Good question.

Andy is a silversmith and lapidary artist, and he makes beautiful sterling silver and natural stone jewelry. He sells his work at various festivals and markets around North Mississippi (and sometimes Tennessee). At the time we purchased Lizzy, he already had shows booked for every weekend up until now, and of course I had to work during the week, so we’ve been waiting for an open date to hit the road.

And that open date is Memorial Day weekend…yes, it’s going to be crowded, but that’s OK.

And in the grand scheme of things, it has actually worked out better this way. Since this is our first RV, we needed to do some shopping for equipment and furnishings to get Lizzy outfitted properly. The UPS guys have made regular stops at our house with boxes from Amazon over the past several weeks, and we made our first trip to Camping World (over an hour away) to gather all the things we’ll need for both hook-up camping and boondocking.

Our dining room table is covered with the last of the purchases. We also pulled out some of our old dishes and cooking utensils from our tent-camping equipment to use as our starter set until we go full-time.  This weekend we’ll carry all this stuff over to the storage lot where Lizzy is patiently waiting, and we’ll get her set up and ready to go.

camping stuff on table

I’m looking forward to doing the homemaking things like making the bed, storing the bath linens, hanging the command hooks, putting the dishes away…all the homey stuff. Andy is looking forward to filling up the basement storage with all his “toys”–leveling blocks, wheel chocks, extra hoses, tools–the manly stuff.

Since neither of us have ever spent any time in an RV before, this is all a learning experience for us. We are total newbies, but we are both adventurous souls and we have had this dream for over twenty years. It’s time to make it happen.

This blog is intended to document our journey from the very beginning as we chase our ultimate goal of becoming full-time RVers, traveling around this beautiful, amazing country in which we live. We’re just getting started, and it’s going to be an amazing ride!!